Thursday, 26 November 2015

Anxiety... Bitch That She Is

As I've discussed before, I struggle with anxiety surrounding jumping. After I had my wreck, it got worse and worse until it developed into full-blown panic attacks.

I had multiple sessions with a psychologist (also a 3* eventer) this summer and I really noticed a difference. After my first session with her in July I was able to finish out my show season without any crippling anxiety.

I also take sporadic clinics with the good Dr. It's great to have a team that gets it.

I had planned to take the first part of our off-sesaon to focus strictly on dressage. And then I got offered one of the last spots in a Jessica Phoenix clinic. I couldn't turn that down! I started doing weekly jumping lessons again, in preperation for the clinic. The first two went well, ending with us bopping around a 3' course like NBD. For some reason the next one is where everything fell apart.

The course had some really challenging elements but was definitely within our abilities. The first time around the course was fine. And then the fences went up two holes (bringing the fences anywhere from 2'9"-3'3"), and it all fell apart. I struggled to cope with the meteoric rise in anxiety. I utilized all the tools that had allowed me to have such a wonderful summer.

It just wasn't enough. While I didn't have an actual panic attack, I did feel like one was building. I guess I did succeed in recognizing it, but I didn't feel like I could get past it. My instructor actually made me grab the neck strap with both hands and I was not allowed to let go. Thankfully Dee steers really well off my seat and legs and has a good understanding of neck reining. This really took most of the responsibility out of my hands and Dee carted me around like the Best Pony she is.

Its frustrating and demoralizing to have lesson like these ones. While I did end on a decent note, it wasn't fun, I didn't feel like I learned anything and more than anything it felt like a step back.

Then today my ballroom instructor posted this on Facebook.

So I guess I'll just Cha-Cha my way into the clinic this weekend. And schedule another appointment with the psychologist.


  1. Cha-cha your way right into that clinic...I love it! On a more serious note, I had a similar ride a couple of weeks ago and was so frustrated with myself. Awesome that you have a pro there to help you through it, I'm sending lots of virtual support your way!

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  3. I suffer from panic attacks also, I know how they can sneak up & make you feel completely not in control, glad you ended the lesson on a better note, enjoy the clinic!

  4. Love the quote! I struggle with fear too, no easy way around it. Wishing you a lovely time at the clinic. (have you read Jane Savoie's book 'that winning feeling'? it is awesome)

  5. I really am right there with you. My attacks became so bad a few years ago, I couldn't even lead a horse out of paddock without one. You have the right help and you can totally do this! One small piece of the many things I use to help me in a situation like a jump lesson being too much, just take charge and ask the coach to put the jumps/exercise where you are comfortable and rock the shit out of it! However many steps back you have to take, do it and leave your mind on a good note. It really helps for how you will feel for the next lesson.

  6. Love the quote!! Glad you have help and are on the right track.

  7. I love the cha cha quote! I've had many struggles with fear too. Sounds like you have a great support system/plan to help you out! I'm cheering for you! :)

  8. ugh i'm so sorry - that feeling is pretty much the worst :( i like your plan tho - good luck at the clinic!

  9. I get the same way when I have to gallop the racehorses, so I understand how it feels. It sounds like you are headed in the right direction with it and a step back isn't a big deal, it happens. I hope that the clinic went well for you.